It was quite encouraging last week at the Light Reading LIVE event in San Jose. It was impressive to see that ATCA, or should I refer to xTCA, is live and thriving judging from the number of customers and ecosystem players attending the event. With key notes from some of the industry leaders like NSN, Ericsson and Intel, the event kicked of a dialogue on how well things are going for ATCA. Simon Stanley from Heavy reading gave a glowing report and healthy forecast for xTCA. My impression from the discussion was that there is ample roots and healthy support for xTCA from the networking and communication industry. Of course, there are places and areas such as Base Stations that will continue to daunt ATCA purely from the point of high volume as well cost pressures. Typically Base Stations require highly optimized and (both for cost and other) targeted solutions which give ATCA the run for its money!

Despite the tough economy and the environment, people took time to attend and participate in the show. Notable debates and discussion around how complete are the solutions today and how much software and standards do we need to increase/accelerate the adoption rate. Refreshing to see various view points from the ecosystem players and customers acknowledging the viability of the COTS model and the benefits the industry overall has been able to get. Listening to success stories regarding use of ATCA to get to market reinforced the original intent of the standards effort the ecosystem has pulled off. Even more refreshing is to see the level of interest and focus on the software aspects of the solution set – a proof of the industry maturing and getting well past the typical silicon/hardware issues of any standardization effort. Granted the industry is still working to improve/complete the higher layers, but the challenge is not an easy one! With diverse requirements from wide range of network elements and different implementation models, it is tough to scale a single architecture/platform to address all of them. The impressive part is that general feel is that the industry has made great strides and is well on its way to meeting the requirements. It seems COTS does make sense for most of the attendees.

And how about the new PICMG initiative to expand ATCA beyond CO? Both PICMG and Intel gave a good rational and approach to addressing some of the high density compute uses for ATCA with the new PICMG initiative. It is very useful for both customers and ecosystem players to leverage the same blades to address data center applications. Given the importance of business data and the availability needs, leveraging the carrier grade aspect of Telecom and addressing the density requirements without the same thermal characteristics makes sense. Let’s see if the industry warms up to it.

I represented the ecosystem in the wrap-up round table with other representation from user, analyst and silicon provider. Though we did not get into any controversial topics, we touched on several important aspects of the COTS benefits and issues – adoption, catalysts for further acceleration in adoption, adjacent market segments like MAG and so. Overall, it was a good experience and felt somewhat like a family reunion with industry players.